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Chaika II Repair Results

Posted 2011.10.09 15.32 in Hobbies, Photography

A while back I dug up an old broken camera and pulled it apart to fix it. Or kill it. Whatever came first.

Turned out that the fix was fairly simple, and I was momentarily pleased enough to put some film in it and carry it around for a couple days.

The Chaika II is a “half frame” camera, meaning it takes two smaller pictures for every one picture a normal camera takes. Normal 35mm frames are 36mm x 24mm, and a half-frame camera takes 24mm x 18mm frames. So with a 36-exposure roll, you actually get 72 shots!

It’d take me forever to finish a 72-frame roll, but luckily I usually have some half-rolls laying around, from re-spooling 35mm film into different formats (eg. 126 cartridges or 127 rolls.) Or just from getting bored and pulling a half-used roll out of one camera, to finish in another.

Either way, I had about half a roll left of CN-800 film, and into the Chaika it went.

Details: ISO 800 colour negative film, processed a long while in my tired old C-41 chemistry. Exposed using Sunny-16 and guesswork. The Chaika’s shutter seems to be working fine and the speeds are probably accurate. Yay!

Late Night Camera Repair

Posted 2011.09.14 22.41 in Hobbies

This week has really been a huge bust. After the various failures over the weekend, I’ve been suffering at the hands of medical professionals and the various tests to which they’ve been subjecting my leg. I’ve been feeling bummed out with photography and cameras.

Tonight I’m sitting here about ready to go to bed and then I decide, just before turning in, I’m going to at least mess with a camera. I’ve got this little Chaika-II on my shelf, I vaguely remember putting some film through it when I first got it, but then the shutter/winder siezed up. It’s just been gathering dust since then.

So tonight I decided, I’m either going to fix it, or I’m going to reduce it to a pile of parts. And based on this week’s track record, I expected the latter result.

Still, it was a very inexpensive camera, and I’m not a big fan of the half-frame format, so I was ready to make the sacrifice. Worst-case scenario, I’d get to see the insides and maybe learn something.

Chaika II

I removed the four screws I found on the top plate, and the top easily slid off. A few parts and a spring fell out, and right away I could see that only three screws should have been removed – the fourth one should have stayed put as it was holding some parts to the top plate. Fortunately I’m pretty good at figuring that sort of thing out, and it only took a few moments to see how the parts fit back together, so I wasn’t any further behind.

Looking at the winding / cocking mechanism, it’s a lot like a funny little clockwork. The shutter speed is part of that clockwork, and setting the shutter speed just tensions a spring – the more the tension, the faster the shutter. What I realized was that, like a number of other early eastern-bloc mechanical cameras, you are not supposed to set the shutter speed until after winding and cocking the camera.¬†Odds are, I did that out of order at one point and got the thing jammed.

It ended up being a very simple straightforward fix, and once again this little camera is clicking along. Not bad for 10 minutes work before bed – it took longer to do this write-up than it did to fix the camera! I’m even thinking about running some more film through this little camera, just for the heck of it!

Back in Business!

Posted 2011.04.18 21.25 in Computers/Internet/Technology

The parts I needed arrived today, so it was just a matter of asembling a new ‘motherboard’ then wiring it into the thermostat enclosure.

The parts were mainly the circuit board and the ATMega328p chip, along with the sundry support electrics. To be honest, I’m using the SparkFun Serial LCD kit — for $25 it’s almost a complete self-contained mini-Arduino that piggybacks onto the back of a 16×2 LCD display. And it even includes the LCD!

If I knew how to use Eagle and if I had more time, I’d have made my own PCB design. I still might do that as I now have more LCD screens than boards to slap on the back of them. The SparkFun Serial LCD isn’t perfect, but it’s actually quite close.

So my DIY networked Thermostat is back up and running with a shiney new brain, my house is once again comfortable, I’m out of the stone age and back in the World of Tomorrow, and I’m a happy camper.

And just for kicks, I took the old dead board and tossed it in the dishwasher, ran a load on ‘heavy-duty pots-n-pans’ mode, and the darn thing is actually working again. Go figure! I won’t trust it in mission-critical use, but I can certainly use it for prototyping or making stuff that’s not, you know, directly wired into my friggin home.

Yep, once again all is right with the world.

Shakey Hands

Posted 2010.02.23 9.37 in Hobbies

After about 2 1/2 years, I finally got around to fixing my wristwatch.

Way back when, I accidentally dropped it and when it hit the floor, the second hand popped off, and was rattling around under the crystal. Second hands are so incredibly thin and fragile that I was worried if I kept using it, the second hand might get trapped between the other hands and get bent or jammed up.

So for about 30 months, the watch has been sitting on my workbench, waiting for attention.

Then I found myself going into my watchmaking toolkit as I needed one of the micro screwdrivers, and that’s when I found myself looking at the watch. So as soon as I finished the other project, I got the watch, case wrench, tweezers and loupe, and went to work.

It really didn’t take much time – most of the time I spent was trying to remember how to release the stem. Some of them you have to unscrew a set screw slightly, other ones have a push-release. This one is a push-release.

Then it was pretty straightforward to get the second-hand with the tweezers and press it back onto the spindle thing.

I forget the correct terms. It’s been 5 years since I was into watchmaking, I’ve forgot all the terminology.

But now my watch works again!

Now I’m the sort of person who wears a watch.


Home Camera Repair: Epic FAIL

Posted 2009.10.29 9.39 in Hobbies, Photography

Just so nobody thinks that home camera repair is all fun and wine, there are the occasional FAIL moments.

My Lomo Lubitel 166 was in need of some work – when I got it, it was filthy (“refurbished” my arse) and the Bulb mode did not work. A simple cleaning was easy enough and I was sort of prepared to live without Bulb mode since it didn’t come with a cable release socket anyways. (Though wierdly, it actually came with a cable release.)

The final straw came when I had loaded it up with the second roll of film, then the back flopped open and ruined a couple exposures. At that point, I figured I’d fix the Bulb mode and see about doing something to improve the way the back closed.

Repairing Bulb mode proved to be pretty simple. But putting it back together… well there was the kicker. I could get it back together, but the shutter wouldn’t cock. Or I could get it so the shutter cocked, but it wouldn’t go back together. It was frustrating. I fiddled with it for a few hours then gave up and set it aside for a week or two.

Camera Repair Failure

Last night I tried again, but found myself to be still frustrated – I have no idea how they hooked the cocking gear to the winding gear. I can hook them up in a dozen different ways, but none of them work.

In frustration I “removed” one side of the camera, to see if I could get at some of the gears. I got at the gears, but still no luck. The camera body is mainly plastic, and the outer bits were ‘welded’ in place so getting at the gears meant breaking some of the outer casing.

At this stage, it’s pretty much a write-off. All I can do now is scavenge it for parts. Sigh. Well, you can’t win them all. And I did get one roll of film through it. Still… after spending 29 years waiting in a box, it found me, shot one roll of film, then I killed it.

Mind you, a little failure is good now and then, helps to keep us mindful of consequences and helps us learn.

Rollei B35

Posted 2009.10.24 19.12 in Hobbies, Photography

Another day, another camera… I saw this for sale at the online division of my local camera store. I didn’t know much about the Rollei 35 line, but it looked interesting, so I did some reading. I found out it was ‘small’, ‘compact’. The B35, introduced in 1969, is small, light, fully manual, and has a selenium powered light meter (no batteries required). It was inexpensive so I went for it.

What all the internet pictures fail to convey is just how small this 40-year-old camera actually is! I was amazed that they had a full-frame manual functional 35mm camera in such a tiny package. It’s just totally adorable! Believe me, it’s smaller than you think.

Rollei B35

Rollei B35

The light meter functioned and gave sane readings – after 40 years it still worked! The aperture and shutter seemed to work right, and the lens looked good.

It did have some issues though – it was obvious someone had tried to ‘fix’ it and messed things up somewhat. The leatherette was peeling in areas, and there were blobs of crazyglue where they’d tried to fix it. The top plate was very loose. And the viewfinder was cloudy and dusty.

It proved to be quite easy to remedy everything but the leatherette – after removing the wind lever, there are just two screws to free the top-plate. I suspect someone else undid the two screws (they were very loose) but didn’t know how to remove the wind lever. Once the top plate was off, I went at the viewfinder with q-tips and windex. I got it about 80% clean – there was one bit I couldn’t access because the parts were glued and I didn’t want to risk breaking the glass. It’s an improvement, anyhow. Then it all went back together easily and I made sure it was all tight and sturdy.

Rollei Repairs

Rollei Repairs

So I ran a roll of HP5+ through it to see if it worked as well as I thought it looked. The Triotar lens is only a triplet and some people say it’s not very good, but I was pleased with the results. It did a good job considering I was just guesstimating the focusing (and I suck at guessing distances.)

HP5+, ISO 400, developed in TMax for 6:30 minutes. The quality on the last shot isn’t that great because it’s been heavily cropped.

Home Camera Repair: Nettar

Posted 2009.10.20 10.04 in Hobbies, Photography

After all my recent successes, I decided to do some work on one of my new favorites – the Zeiss Ikon Nettar. This camera is 60 years old, made in 1949 it is a medium format 6×6 folding camera. With bellows and everything, it’s a real beauty, and in almost perfect condition! The only problem was the viewfinder was totally fogged up. Not surprising if it’s got 60 years of gunk in it.

Unscrewing the top plate.

Unscrewing the top plate.

Fortunately, cleaning a viewfinder on one of these cameras is a fairly easy task. Just remove the screw that holds down the winding knob, then remove the screw that’s underneath the winding knob. On the other side, there’s one more screw, and then the top plate just lifts right off. The only caveat is to be careful not to lose the two buttons – the shutter release and the opening latch, are ‘loose’ and held in place only by the top plate.

With the top plate off, the front and rear viewfinder lenses are easily accessable. The glass is only held in place by ‘friction’, being pressed into a lightweight metal frame. This means it’s easy to dislodge them if you aren’t careful.

Once I had access to the lenses, I just used a couple q-tips and a drop of windex, to wipe away the grime. Once it was done, the viewfinder was clear as crystal. It was a snap then to just put back the buttons and top plate, then tighten the screws down. Only about 10 minutes for the entire procedure, and now my Zeiss Ikon Nettar is as good as new!

The Nettar without its top plate.

The Nettar without its top plate.